Bush Praises Fort Campbell Troops for Key Role in Terror War
(November 26, 2008)
President George W. Bush acknowledges his
audience as he enters the staging area, Nov. 25,
2008, at Fort Campbell, Ky. The president told
the troops, "We are blessed to have defenders of
such character and courage. I'm grateful to the
families who serve by your side. And I will
always be thankful for the honor of having
served as the commander-in-chief."
WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2008 – President
George W. Bush kicked off his last Thanksgiving week as
commander in chief today by thanking the soldiers of Fort
Campbell, Ky., for the key role they've played in the war on
terror and telling them they're what he'll miss most when he
Bush visited the home of the 101st Airborne Division, 160th
Special Operations Aviation Regiment and 5th Special Forces
Group soldiers, many recently returned from Iraq and
Afghanistan. Among them were the “Screaming Eagles”
division's 2nd Brigade, in the midst of returning early from
Iraq because of decreased violence there.
“You have performed with courage and distinction on the
front lines of the war on terror,” Bush told the soldiers,
who erupted into
applause and “hoo-ahs” throughout the address.
“You have returned on success,” he continued. “On behalf of
a grateful nation, I'm proud to welcome home the Bastogne
Brigade, the Strike Brigade, the Rakkasans Brigade. Job well
|The president praised the troops for actions that he said
not only have brought new hope and opportunity to Iraq and
Afghanistan, but also helped to make the United States more
“[You] have gone on the offense in the war against these
killers and thugs,” he said. “You have taken the battle of
the terrorists overseas so we do not have to face them here
in the United States.”
Meanwhile, as part of “the great ideological struggle of our
time,” the Fort Campbell soldiers have brought a more
hopeful vision of justice and liberty, he said. “With the
soldiers at Fort Campbell out front, the forces of freedom
and liberty will prevail,” he said.
The president recalled his first Thanksgiving visit to Fort
Campbell, just two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks
and a month after the war in Afghanistan had started. Fort
Campbell's Rakkasans Brigade was the first conventional
brigade to join the battle.
Since then, the 101st Airborne Division has continued to
play a major role in the terror war, most recently as part
of the troop surge in Iraq.
President George W. Bush waves to the troops at
Fort Campbell, Ky., Nov. 25, 2008, after being
introduced on stage during a Thanksgiving visit.
"Over the past seven years, folks from this base
have done exactly what they were trained to do,"
he said. "You have taken the battle of the
terrorists overseas so we do not have to face
them here in the United States. You have helped
counter the hateful ideology of tyranny and
terror with a more hopeful vision of justice and
liberty. You're part of the great ideological
struggle of our time. With the soldiers of Fort
Campbell out front, the forces of freedom and
liberty will prevail."
“Our troops conducted this surge with resolve and with
valor, and nobody knows the impact better than the Screaming
Eagles,” Bush told the soldiers. He noted the huge
turnaround they helped to bring to Iraq's Salahuddin
province, which was struggling to recover from the Golden
Mosque bombing when the division's Bastogne Brigade deployed
there last year.
President George W. Bush greets his audience,
Nov. 25, 2008, after addressing the troops at
Fort Campbell, Ky. "I'm honored to be with the
Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne; the
Night Stalkers of the 160th; the Green Berets of
the 5th Special Forces Group, all members of the
Fort Campbell community," said Bush. "You are
part of the finest military in the world. I have
one word for you: Hooah!"
|“But you partnered with the Iraqis to restore security.
Schools and businesses are now open. The Golden Mosque is
being rebuilt,” Bush said. “And throughout the province,
hope is returning. The terrorists are being driven out. The
Iraqi people have the Screaming Eagles to thank.”
Bush noted similar successes taking place across Iraq, with
violence and sectarian violence down dramatically and 13 of
the country's 18 provinces now under Iraqi security forces
“Slowly but steadily, economic and political progress is
taking place,” he said. “And Iraqis are working together for
a more hopeful future.”
Bush vowed to continue reducing U.S. forces in Iraq as
conditions on the ground continue to improve, a strategy he
calls “return on success.”
So far, a Marine expeditionary unit, two Marine battalions
including the Rakkasans, have
returned from Iraq without replacement. “By the end of
January, we'll have brought home more than 4,000 additional
troops,” Bush said.
Meanwhile, the president cited progress toward completing a
strategic framework agreement and security agreement with
the Iraqi government. Ultimately, these agreements will pave
a way for future economic, diplomatic and military
cooperation between the United States and Iraq.
|Bush called ongoing debate about these agreements among
Iraqi lawmakers a sign of Iraq's strong democracy and a
testament to the successes U.S. servicemembers have helped
to bring about.
“War in Iraq is not over, but we're drawing closer to the
day when our troops can come home,” Bush said. “And when
they come home, they will come home in victory.”
After the cheers subsided, the president thanked the
soldiers for their historic accomplishments.
Success in Iraq will frustrate Iran's ambitions to dominate
in the region, deny al-Qaida a safe haven for new attacks
and give millions of people in the Middle East the promise
of liberty and democracy, he said.
But the impact of that
success will resonate far beyond Iraq and the
President George W. Bush stands with troops on
stage, Nov. 25, 2008, at Fort Campbell, Ky., one
of the Army's premier training and deployment
|region, he added. “Success in Iraq will mean that
the American people are more secure at home,” he said.
As he prepares to leave office, Bush said, he's often asked
what he'll miss most about the job.
“Well, above all, I'm going to miss spending time with men
and women who have volunteered to serve the United States of
America -- the fine men and women who wear the uniform,” he
“We are blessed to have defenders of such character and
courage,” the president said. “I'm grateful to the families
who serve by your side, and I will always be thankful for
the honor of having served as the commander in chief.”
White House photos by Eric Draper
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
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